The actions that we produce are driven by our thoughts. Before we make any steps in a particular direction, it is best that we hold ourselves accountable by processing our very own thoughts. Mindfulness is part of the process. Here is a mediation on depression, from my book, 31 Days of Mindful Proverbs: Healing Words for the Soul.
The Word of God teaches us how powerful and influential our thought patterns are; they direct the course of our life. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Does this mean that if we think of a chicken, we are in actuality a chicken? Absolutely not. But if we focus on chicken constantly and fix our thoughts on our longing and desire for chicken, we will engage in eating it very often and can rightly be defined as “chicken lovers.” Let’s take for example the illustration of lusting after someone in our heart, continually. As the thought of lust comes in our mind, it is our responsibility to process why we thought of lust, how we plan to respond to this thought, and whether this thought will become a recurring thought. If we have thoughts of low self-esteem, we do not have to be defined as a person with low self-esteem or allow these thoughts to control us. We claim and utilize the power within us by countering our thoughts with faithfulness and confidence. As powerful, thinking human beings, we have to master the art of directing our thought patterns into a fruitful, positive, and productive direction. Yes! We can accomplish this task, but it will require some work.
We all are faced with maladaptive thoughts at times, but we all have the ability to channel our thoughts and direct our actions. The initial stage of mindfulness is awareness. Awareness is extremely significant because, before we are able to challenge a thought process, we have to be aware of that thought and judge its content. Let’s go back to thoughts of lust. A great place to start is to first identify that the thoughts we are having are lustful. After our thought is identified, we then weigh whether it is productive or destructive, which is guided firstly by our belief system and moral standard. Any thought we have should be judged by asking ourselves the question: Is it maladaptive or worth adapting; is it life bearing or marked with death? Ask yourself: What will happen if I water this thought and what kind of fruit will it produce? Whatever results we are looking for, we should move in that direction with that thought.
If we experience thoughts of depression, as we all do from time to time, we know that these thoughts are destructive and maladaptive. They are marked with death, as they do not yield any life. If we take a look at individuals who have watered thoughts of depression and weigh the results or the fruit that comes from their thoughts, we see the fruit of suicide, we see the fruit of low quality of life, we see the fruit of strained family dynamics. The list can go on and on as the results vary from person to person, but the results are never positive. At this point, we are aware; before moving any further in countering maladaptive thoughts, we must be aware. Without awareness, there will be no change.
Maladaptive, unproductive thoughts of depression will no longer keep us bound if we decide to take a step toward countering them and reprogramming our thought patterns. The Word of God is the most powerful tool to use in our mindfulness journey. Other tools are also helpful, but we will focus primarily on God’s Word, and other resources will be used as support. The Word of God directs on things that are good and acceptable. John 6:63 says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Therefore, we have something substantial to measure our thoughts with and judge based on our belief, and because it is life, it will cause us to live. This battle over the thoughts of our mind is not a one-time victory, but rather a constant war that we have to fight, and with God, we are guaranteed the victory.
Spiritual Food for Thought: Proverbs 4:23—Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Finally, here is are some questions for personal reflection: What patterns of thinking have led to feelings of depression and low self-esteem in your life? Think back into your childhood. How have encounters in your childhood influenced your thought pattern around low self-esteem? What are some strained relationships in your life? What role have you played in that dynamic? Identify your thoughts in relation to your actions.
This article is an excerpt from Latoya Dalmadge’s book, 31 Days of Mindful Proverbs: Healing Words for the Soul.